MIKE BLAIR has made four changes to his Edinburgh team for tomorrow’s Challenge Cup at London Irish – three upfront and one in the back division.
Matt Currie is the sole newcomer behind the scrum, taking over at outside centre from Mark Bennett. Boan Venter gets a start at loosehead instead of Pierre Schoeman, Adam McBurney starts at hooker as both Stuart McInally and Dave Cherry are on the injured list, and Nick Haining is at blindside in a reshuffled back row from which Hamish Watson drops out.
Patrick Harrison is back-up hooker and Connor Boyle is also among the forwards replacements. The three backs on the bench are the same as last week: scrum-half Charlie Shiel, stand-off Jaco van der Walt and centre Chris Dean.
While Bennett was on outstanding form in last week’s league win over Cardiff, Blair believes it is important to reward players such as Currie who have been working well in training. “Selection has been one of the hardest parts of the job so far, because guys are training well and putting their hands up, but guys are performing on the pitch as well,” the head coach said. “We’ve spent a lot of time selecting this side and we believe we’ve got a team that can go out there and challenge London Irish.
“We were really pleased with the performance against Cardiff. We left a couple of opportunities out there, but we really enjoyed the intent and the physicality – both important parts of our game – and we’ve just been building on them in training to bring into this weekend’s game.
“I love the way London Irish play. They move the ball around a lot, are really innovative with what they’re trying to do, with their set plays and scrum plays – I think it’ll be an excellent game.”
Eight players are listed as unavailable: Cherry, McInally, Luan de Bruin, Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, James Johnstone, Bill Mata and Ben Toolis.
Edinburgh (v London Irish at Brentford Community Stadium, Saturday @ 3.15pm): H Immelman; E Boffelli, M Currie, J Lang, R Moyano; B Kinghorn, B Vellacott; B Venter, A McBurney, W Nel, J Hodgson, G Gilchrist (captain), N Haining, J Ritchie, M Bradbury. Substitutes: P Harrison, P Schoeman, L Atalifo, M Sykes, C Boyle, C Shiel, J van der Walt, C Dean.